this is The Shoes is a two-piece blues-rock band out of Vancouver. Jereme Collette and Sabrina Robson got together in 2011 and have been playing their self-described dirty blues ever since. Bust is the band’s longest EP to date, packing in six growling tracks.
The opening notes of “Backwards” let you know immediately that things will be messy and aggressive. Robson’s vocals manage to combine the emotional range of the blues with the intimidating ferocity of punk. The rhythmic kicking along with the wailing of the guitar combines country with punk in a smooth mixing of genres.
“When the Sun Goes Down” has a rolling country beat of the kind that always satisfies me. It’s accented by a harmonica in the background, pulling out this is The Shoes’ country influences some more.
“STUCK” shows off the softer side of Robsen’s vocals—a versatility that impresses considering how light and musical her voice can sound when she tones things down. Robsen steps up to the chorus, pouring out plaintive notes about being stuck and capturing the essence of the lyrics.
It’s this emotional side of the music and vocals that comes out for “Unfaithful”. Robsen’s voice conveys heartbreak powerfully, and Collette knows when to keep the guitar quiet to compliment or show off the vocals and lyrics, and when to add more to build the intensity.
Robsen’s voice comes out aggressive from the first notes of “Long Gone,” and the pause in which Collette brings in the guitars build on that for the most in-your-face song on the album. There’s also a harmonica riff halfway through that will make you rethink any time you’ve relegated the instrument to the land of Bob Dylan folk songs or 60s childhood hobbies.
“So Tired” is an ending that suitably closes such an intense set of songs. There’s a feeling of exhaustion in the early languid pace of the song. As it builds in intensity, the sound effects of a horse plodding along, when mixed with the layering of voices and shrieks, create a vivid imagery of being lost in a desert.
You wouldn’t expect this is The Shoes to be a two-piece band when you listen to the music and hear how much is going on. It’s not a stripped down duo like The White Stripes. Every song packs a punch—it really is dirty blues.
Top Tracks: “STUCK”; “Long Gone”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*